By Felicia Smolen
On Tuesday, November 15, Nick Foraker, ‘17 and Conor Toomb, ‘17, went to the Senate with a list of complaints about the student government. At the top of that list were concerns over the recent changes to how the Council of Representatives (CoR) operates. The Vice President of Student Organizations (VPSO) Jerry Daigler, ‘17, recently decided to make CoR on an as-needed basis rather than a monthly basis. In previous years, there was a Council of Presidents (CoP) which was supposed to consist of a mandatory meeting where all club presidents would gather to act as a pseudo-legislative body which could pass bills. Due to many reasons, it collapsed; some presidents represented multiple clubs, and so some clubs had to send non-presidents to the meeting so that each club would have one vote. Another problem was the issue of a non-elected body serving as a legislative body. Hence, CoR, a non-legislative body where any executive board member could represent their club, rose to replace CoP. CoR represented a meeting which many club leaders resented, but which served as a way for clubs to meet, discuss, and vote on issues which affected clubs.
Both Foraker and Toomb’s first complaint was about the new changes to the budget and how CoR was not allowed to vote on it. Since CoR is supposed to be a way for club leaders to come together and vote on matters such as these, Foraker and Toomb felt robbed of an ability to make their voice heard. VPSO Daigler admitted that guidelines for CoR are “vague.” There was even question about the roles that certain leaders could have while simultaneously involved in VPSO, as Toomb asked whether Daigler could simultaneously serve as VPSO and Vice President of Enactus.
“We weren’t given a vote as club leaders,” said Foraker. “[The budget process] should have been a club leader vote.”
The biggest issue they had was the fact that club leaders did not have a vote on what happened with the budget; they felt it was unfair and it should have been their right to be able to vote. USA President Elias Ayoub, ‘17 stated that it was a “misnomer” that student government was meant to be bi-cameral, but that doesn’t mean that CoR can’t still vote on certain matters important to clubs.
When Tim Utz, ‘18 asked for specifics on what else there was an issue with, Foraker cited that small clubs, such as Veg Club and Disney Club, aren’t able to be as active because they are newer and received a smaller budget. The argument would be that those clubs that are newer do not have the budget that older clubs do; therefore, they do not have the ability to prove themselves as well as the more established clubs do.
Senate brought up the appeal system, but Foraker said that clubs might not understand the appeal system and might be intimidated by it. The appeal system gives clubs the ability to appeal or ask for more money if they feel that the budget they initially have will not be sufficient for the club’s expenses for the year. The clubs, of course, have to prove that they will not have enough money and justify why they need more money and what they will need it for. One example provided was from Fusion, who say they are in a “gray area” with Lasertron due to the fact that they don’t know if they would have to appeal for the buses.
VPSO Daigler said that when the budget system was introduced at CoR, club leaders “didn’t speak up,” but Foraker disagreed and said he did ask about how smaller clubs would be affected. Ayoub defended the system as a way for clubs to have “more autonomy” with how they come to conclusions about decisions made at meetings.
“CoR obviously still exists in the same way it always has,” said Ayoub, “except if there’s no business to be attended to there just won’t be a CoR meeting.”
In other words, rather than wasting time on meetings when there is no business to be dealt with, Senate has decided it would be more productive to to simply have meetings when there is business to tend to.
Toomb said that he had people, such as Movie Makers, sign a petition about the CoR concerns. When asked where he had gotten the petition from, Conor Toomb said the sheet had been leftover from when he ran in the last election. As a result, the petition did not have a clear statement or declaration of what it was actually for. The specific intentions of the petition were unclear.
Another concern that Foraker brought up was that the Senate did not have an up-to-date constitution on GriffLink, even though Senate requires all other clubs to have this feature. Ayoub acknowledged that this was “a fair point.” Multiple senators also acknowledged that there were “some legitimate concerns” that Foraker and Toomb brought up, but said it might be better if they set up individual meetings with the proper student leaders. Vice President for Business and Finance (VPBF) Jeff Spencer, ‘17, said he appreciated Foraker and Toomb coming, and said that “hopefully next semester we can make the adjustments that need to be done.”
With the changes being made to CoR and how it is run and handled, there are still grey areas and unanswered questions. In the near future, there are hopes for the clarification of these issues. Toomb and Foraker brought up some valid points that will need to be addressed in the future to create a more productive relationship between clubs and student government